This December we celebrate the 35thth Anniversary of the UK speed limit.
And in that time it has not moved – although many other countries have increased their numbers and just as many are demanding that it be brought up. It’s been an on-off debate for decades, but given the growing need to cut emissions, have we missed the boat on it?
To answer exactly that Car rental specials compared British roads to German highways – famous for their borderless driving – and weighed the effects of increased restrictions on travel times, accidents and of course the environment.
How many hours of driving could an increased speed limit save?
The speed limit set by many activists, including a number of MPs, is 80 mph. That would cut off at least most of an hour from the routes.
However, take the freeway approach, and the enforceable limit could go even beyond that. With a top end of 100 mph, a run from Land’s End to John O’Groats could be nearly five hours better – over a third of the current time.
The UK road freight industry might be the biggest winner if the limit were raised. Even if only half an hour were saved, a 15-truck haulage company could save a day’s wage on each run.
The average UK commute is 24 miles and an hour of travel time – even a 1 km / h increase in average speed could cut five minutes of commute time per day and over an hour and a half per month. For those whose commute to work is on the freeway, the savings will pile up even faster.
Are Germany’s motorways safer than our roads?
While saving time in the car is the main argument in favor of raising the limit, the impact on the number of accidents is usually the counter argument. With more than a ton of metal, glass, and rubber making up the average car, you’ll be forgiven that a higher limit isn’t a safe proposition.
However, a comparison with Germany shows that this may not be the case. Much of the German Autobahn has no mandatory speed limit and the death toll is higher than on UK roads. However, the country’s death rate is two-thirds lower – three per 100 miles compared to five per 100 miles in the UK. The accident rate has also decreased, with 43 fewer casualties per 100 miles.
This deficit raises questions about the maximum speed of 100 km / h in Great Britain, despite the motorway being more than three times the length in Germany.
This could be partly due to the stricter process for learner drivers. If you are involved in an accident that exceeds the recommended highway speeds, you can be responsible and your insurance could be void regardless of the circumstances.
Convenience or Environment?
A more recent counter-argument is the effect of increased speeds on vehicle emissions, especially as Boris Johnson and co are facing increasing pressure on their environmental plan.
According to government research, increasing the limit by as much as 15 km / h could increase carbon dioxide (CO)2) Emissions between three and six percent. In 2010 there were 64,000 air pollution related deaths – such an increase in total emissions could result in 2,880 more deaths per year.
However, the increasing acceptance of electric vehicles could lead to an increase in emissions. The government is currently considering “E-Highways”, where cables that have been eavesdropped – similar to those on rail – would drive trucks electrically and practically stop truck emissions for their motorway journeys.
In 2018, transport was the UK’s largest greenhouse gas emitter. Road freight transport accounted for 5% of the total CO2 Emissions. Perhaps switching to electricity could reverse potential profits, especially after the proposed ban on gasoline and diesel vehicles in 2035.
Would an increased UK limit be supported?
To assess whether an increased speed limit is required or not Car rental specials asked Brits about increased top end.
The majority of respondents say they would not welcome an increase, and less than one in ten are on board with the idea of a freeway-like, borderless motorway.
However, the results also suggest that the lower death rate in Germany could be the main factor – while the previous questions suggest that the public in general is against a higher limit, over 40% said they were undecided about the Autobahn stats could influence their opinion.
Given that the vast majority have not changed their minds in the last decade, despite growing concerns about pollution and environmental impact, accidents seem to be the biggest factor in public opinion.